Abra mayor’s brod’s house shot; publisher unhurt in slay attempt

>> Monday, June 15, 2009

BANGUED, Abra -- Abra religious leaders and non-government organizations have expressed fears of an upsurge of political violence and human rights violations in the province.

This, after unidentified gunmen peppered here the house of the brother of a town mayor and a bothched assassination try on a publisher.

Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin appealed to elected officials to work together in reducing political violence and asked Rep. Cecilia Luna to help out in eradicating private armed groups in the province.

Florencio Crisologo’s house in Barangay Calaba here was peppered with bullets last June 2 at 10 p.m., wounding 44-year-old overseas Filipino worker Aurelia Martines y Ortega, 44.

She is a sister-in-law of Crisologo, who is the brother of Tineg, Abra Mayor Edwin Crisologo.

Two men armed with pistols and possible an M-16 Armalite rifle fired at her and her husband Nestor Martines y Limag, who managed to duck.

Aurelia was hit on the right thigh and left forearm. Nestor is a barangay councilman of Barangay Kaganayan, Tineg.

A police report said the house was being maintained by Cecilia Acosta y Ortegas but did not state that it was owned by Florencio Crisologo.

Three empty shells of Cal. 45 bullets were found on the scene along with a deformed slug.

Mayor Crisologo expressed concern over the incident, noting that the target could have been Nestor Martines, a political ally.

The shooting happened after a botched assassination try on a publisher of a newspaper in Abra who tackled allegations of corruption in a cooperative controlled by relatives of a top politician in the province.

This attack was condemned by Catholic priests and prompted denunciations by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Mayor Crisologo has urged the police to investigate the shooting thoroughly even as he condemned the attack.

Lawyer Estelita Cordero, counsel for Mayor Crisologo, said her client had earlier been subjected to a spate of criminal suits, most of which have been dismissed by prosecutors for being baseless.


Teachers of DepEd Cebu Province


Domogan escorts Candy in slur forgiving session

BAGUIO CITY — The Baguio City council has forgiven Candy Pangilinan for a racial slur she uttered last month.

Comedian Candy Pangilinan, accompanied by Baguio Rep. Mauricio Domogan personally appeared during the regular session of the city council Monday to ask for forgiveness.

She earlier uttered “Akala nyo Igorot ako, tao po ako,” during a Mother’s Day program in one of the malls in the city.

This ired Igorots worldwide making city councilors declae her persona non grata in Baguio City.

“In the deepest core of my heart to each and every one of you, I ask forgiveness,” she told the city council.

“I pray that I may be given a chance to go back on stage to perform before you to the best of my ability, sharing with you all I have in the spirit of joy and laughter,” said Pangilinan.

An emotional Pangilinan appeared at the regular session of the city council late Monday afternoon and pleaded that she be forgiven for what she described as "an honest mistake."

Testifying at the city council, Pangilinan informed the officials she was referring to the Igorot statue being carved out by the famous Ifugao wood carvers and not to the Igorots as individuals.

She said that due to her excitement aggravated by the long tiring trip to this city, she forgot to add the word "statue".

This resulted in a worldwide condemnation of her statement.

Domogan’s assistance was sought by her family. Appearing repentant and using tissue paper to wipe her tears, she issued a public apology before hundreds of Igorots who attended the council session.

The city legislators said the comedienne had suffered a lot due to the flood of criticisms she had been subjected in the past month.

The councilors said that her courage in facing the council was a plus factor in her appeal for forgiveness.

Of the five individuals who were declared persona non grata by the city council in the past decade, it was only Pangilinan who appeared before the legislative body and asked for forgiveness.

The city council through a council resolution unanimously approved earlier, declared Pangilinan persona non grata.

The resolution stated Pangilinan as “unmindful, insensitive, sarcastic, careless and irresponsible issuance of any statement of the same nature.”

“It is believed that the statement of Candy Pangilinan that Igorots are not members of the homo sapiens displays an unmitigated bigotry and her total ignorance of the ethno-linguistic groups of her native country which is discriminatory and unpatriotic and should be condemned by peace-loving Filipinos,” the resolution said. “There are also some ignorant persons who do not know that Igorots are also made in God’s image and treat them condescendingly as second class citizens.”

After hearing her side, the council withdrew the resolution declaring Pangilinan persona non grata.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda during the session, withdrew her resolution urging filing of a case against Pangilinan for violation of provisions against women of indigenous cultures. – Larry Madarang and Dexter A. See


HLURB recalls questionable transfer orders after court rule

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY -- The Housing, Land Use Regulatory Board has designated directors in their regional offices in Regions I and Cordillera following a ruling from the Regional Trial Court here over the appointments controversy.

In a memorandum order, lawyer Romeo Fabol, HLURB chief executive officer, directed Rebecca Torres to remain as HLURB-Cordillera director while Teresita Galacgac, who assumed her post will go back to her old post as regional director of HLURB Region I.

The order was issued by Fabol after Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan of the RTC’s Branch 3 here who berated the agency's legal counsels for their alleged defiance in recognizing the status order earlier issued by the court preventing the ouster of Torres from her old post.

The case stemmed when Torres decided to question in court the legitimacy of a cross positioning order issued by Fabol ordering her transfer to HLURB Region I and transferring Ms. Galacgac to the HLURB-Cordillera office.

Pamintuan then issued a status quo order for Torres to remain at the HLURB-CAR office pending the resolution of the case.

While the court dismissed the case after several hearings due to alleged lack of jurisdiction, Torres filed a motion for reconsideration which is still being heard by the court, thus, the status quo remains valid.

Despite the pendency of the motion for reconsideration, Fabol still insisted to issue a directive for Galacgac to assume her new post while Tores will go to Region I.

Lawyer Aurelio Galacgac, legal counsel of Ms. Galacgac, said his client is willing to abide by whatever decision of the court on the pending case but she has to respect the decision of her superiors to prevent her from being charged with insubordination.

For his part, lawyer Jimboy Atonen, legal counsel of Torres, explained there is a need for the camp of Fabol to respect whatever decision of the court relative to the pending case to prevent any confusion which might hamper the smooth operations of their offices in Regions I and the Cordillera.

Atonen added his client will bring the matter to the appellate court and the Supreme Court once she gets and adverse decision from the lower court, thus, there is no need to rush the transfer of its officials because the case is already within the jurisdiction of the court.

With the latest orders from the HLURB central office, housing industry stakeholders in the region are now confident their transactions with the concerned offices will not be prejudiced by the undue re-assignment of officials.


Troopers, NPA clash in Quirino, Ilocos Sur

QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur – Government troops encountered a platton of New People’s Army guerillas here at Tubtuba, Lamag which resulted to undetermined number of casualties on the rebel’s side, the army said in a media dispatch.

The report said elements of the 50th Infantry Battalion led by 2Lt Milton Mitchel B Sitoy and 2Lt Eduard Ian P Ricablanca while on combat operations encountered the seven cadres around 6:30 a.m. which resultred in a gunfight..

In a report sent to Maj Gen Nestor Z Ochoa, Commander of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division, by Col Essel C Soriano, commanding officer of 503rd Infantry Brigade disclosed the firefight lasted for about 30 minutes afterwhich the NPA guerillas withdrew carrying with them their casualties as indicated by bloodstains in their escape route.

The report said the troops scoured the encounter site that resulted to the recovery of an M16 rifle with M203 grenade launcher, one okia cellphone (N6070); laminated sacks; one axe and one a web belt with bolo.

There was reportedly no casualty on the government side.


P’sinan execs probe dumping of drugs

By Jennelyn Mondejar

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Gov. Amado Espino Jr. has formed a team to investigate multimillion-peso worth of medicine dug up, based on a tip-off, in the engineering compound of the provincial capitol here starting June 6.

“The dumping is a waste of government funds,” said retired police colonel Paterno Orduña, who heads the team.

He said he would conduct thorough investigation, as the dumped medicine was being dug up.

Orduña cited initial information that two dump trucks transported the vials of medicine and dumped them in an excavation as deep as two persons.

“Maybe that’s worth millions,” he said. “In due time, as investigation progresses, we will know who are behind this illegal disposal.”

“It was done in haste,” he said, citing information those who hauled and dumped the medicine were scolded because they were acting slow.

Orduña wondered why the vials of medicine were disposed of when some were still sealed and could still be used.

He said they would recommend to the governor to seek the help of the National Bureau of Investigation for an impartial probe.

Based on information they gathered, Orduña said the dumping, reportedly using a backhoe, was done between 2005 and 2006. Espino took over as governor in 2007.

Dr. Jackson Soriano, officer-in-charge of the provincial health office, said among those dug up were metrodinazole used for amoebiasis, antibiotics for certain abdominal infections, condoms, blood bags, contraceptive pills, anesthesia, IV tubing, anti-TB drugs, antiseptic solution, ascorbic acid, and other tablets.

Some of the drugs had expiry dates in 1998 and 2004.

We should procure what is only needed by our constituents to avoid wastage,” he said.

In cases of unused drugs that have expired, Soriano said these are placed in a vault or a secluded area “but rarely do we have such a situation.”

Orduña agreed with Soriano that even if the drugs were already expired, they should be disposed of in accordance with the rules on government properties.

This, as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the expired medicine as well as medical supplies can only be disposed of with a clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Duque, who hails from this province, told Aksyon Radyo Pangasinan in a phone interview yesterday that the provincial government should really conduct a thorough investigation into the dumping of the drugs and medical supplies.

He said the disposal of expired medicine must be in accordance with pyrolysis standards wherein the materials are decomposed or burned or buried but with clearance from the DENR.

“The place where it will be dumped must be identified, away from public offices, unlike the one done in Pangasinan which was within the premises of government offices,” he said.

Duque said the question of why the medicines expired and not distributed beforehand and the officials behind the dumping must be investigated.

The multimillion-peso drugs and other medical supplies were reportedly dumped in 2005 and 2007 during the incumbency of former governor Victor Agbayani.

Two separate letters from anonymous sources to Orduña and Espino detailing where the drugs were dumped led to the discovery.

For his part, Agbayani, who is now the second district congressman, said there is a need to establish facts about the matter.


Bulacan cop chief protests relief

By George Trillo

CAMP GENERAL ALEJO SANTOS, Bulacan -- Provincial police director Senior Supt. Allen B. Bantolo protested his relief after he was replaced by his classmate last week in what he attributed work “unseen hands.”

In a simple turnover ceremony here June 7, Bantolo was replaced by his former PMA 1983 classmate Senior Supt. Diosdado Ramos.

Senior Supt. Bautista, Region 3 deputy director for operation, read the general orders for the relief of Bantolo and appoinment of Ramos as new provincial director.

Bantolo, outgoing provincial director, in his message, thanked all the people who supported him, particularly the police regional director, provincial governor, and the mayors of different municipalities.

"On hindsight, just allow me to give a parting shot to a dangerous precedent that I want to be addressed at its infancy because if this is not given serious thoughts and consideration, this might become the rust that would derail the transformation program being pursued by PNP chief Director-General Jesus Verzosa," Bantolo said.

He said "it is not only alarming and dangerous but it also threatens the very fiber of the morale of officers, specially those who consider their calling as sacred their responsibility to God and our family."

"Had I been relieved for cause attributable to my lapses and shortcomings, there’s no problem. But if unseen hands, specially religious organizations that violate the constitutional mandate of the separation of the Church and State, then it is very, very dangerous," Bantolo said.

"My only sin is that I do not boot-lick power brokers, but I simply stick to the chain of command," he said.


3 more swine-flu cases reported in Cordillera

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – Health authorities here said a 13-year-old foreigner, who was the first confirmed case of the dreaded swine flu in the Cordillera, was released after repeat throat swab samples tested negative of the disease at the Regional Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM).

This developed as the Center for Health Development in the Cordillera confirmed three more cases of the swine flu caused by the A (H1N1) virus.

The three patients are 15-year old girl, 65-year-old woman, and 72-year-old woman. The three new cases brought the number of cases undergoing observation in the region to 21.

But Dr. Myrna Cabatoje, Cordillera CHD director, said the first case had still to undergo a five-day medical treatment to make sure that he would be immune from the disease. The second case is 20-year-old Filipino man. The results on the tests conducted on him are still being awaited.

The cases undergoing observation have records of travelling to countries with confirmed cases of H1N1 virus.

Some of them have contact with two Taiwanese nationals who attended a wedding ceremony in Zambales and found infected with the disease when they returned to Taiwan a few days later.

Since last May 22, 21 cases of the dreaded virus have been reported in three provinces of the Cordillera, and two of them were found positive of the disease.

Cabotaje said the two confirmed cases in the region were in the same gathering in Zambales, where the two Taiwanese nationals were also present.

A Department of Health (DoH) report stated that two companions of the first case and four colleagues of the second case tested negative of the virus.
The companions of the two cases were also in the same gathering in Zambales and stayed in the same house.

The DoH official said that of the 21 cases, two were confirmed cases, 11 tested negative, and eight others, including the three new suspected cases, were still awaiting the results of the laboratory tests conducted on results at RITM


MP students to politicos: Where is promised dorm

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Student leaders of Mountain province State Polytechnic College here urged politicians to make good their promise of constructing a dormitory for them in this school
year to ease burden of high cost of education.

The construction of two dormitories, one for female and another for male, was supposed to be funded from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of the late Rep. Victor S. Dominguez amount to P20 million with the provincial government providing the lot for the structures as counterpart.

However, in his visit to the MPSPC campus here last year, Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao, the appointed caretaker congressman of the province, committed to school officials and student leaders that the planned construction of the dormitories will be pursued in recognition of the late congressman’s effort to improve the lodging of students enrolled at the MPSPC, the only State-run higher education institution in this province.

Gov. Maximo Dalog, in a series of talks with school officials and student leaders, reportedly also assured that the provincial government will provide the lot where the structures will be erected.

The student leaders appealed to concerned national and local leaders to fulfill their commitments for the construction of the long overdue dormitories to help decongest the alleged overcrowding of boarding houses in this capital town with classes expected to start this coming Monday.

According to them, it is unfortunate that noble projects which will cater to their needs are being sacrificed by some sectors for their own pet projects.

At the same time, MPSPC sources disclosed the nearly 3,000 beneficiaries of the free scholarship program of the late congressman are now reportedly required to pay their tuition and miscellaneous fees for the coming school year because the funds earlier earmarked for the program has been exhausted and has not been replenished.

Recently, the Office of Rep. Agyao reportedly downloaded to the provincial government the amount of P20 million for identified priority infrastructure projects while allegedly claiming that the P20 million earmarked for the construction of the two dormitories is no longer available.

The dormitories are supposed to cater to the lodging needs of indigent students who cannot afford the skyrocketing rates being allegedly imposed by enterprising house owners in the town.

Instead of promoting the welfare of the students who are considered the future leaders of the province, students are disappointed on the failure of concerned local officials to fulfill their promised funding for their dormitories as well as the continuous implementation of the free scholarship program even without the primary sponsor of the said noble programs to advance education in the province. -- Dexter A. See


Standoff over rehab of Baguio market ends

BAGUIO CITY – The long standoff between the city government and a group of vendors, who were displaced by the March 2 fire that destroyed several sections of the public market here, finally ended.

The parties agreed to end the stalemate and push the development of the market.
This developed after the city government gave in to the demand of the vegetable and fruit section stallholders for them to implement the rehabilitation of their stalls, but they should follow a design to be prepared by the city buildings and architect’s office.

But there are still issues to be resolved by both parties. One issue is about the question of whether or not the vendors would be allowed to shoulder the Ρ16-million expenses for the market rehabilitation project.

Another is whether or not the vendors would be granted tax holiday by the city government. Still another issue is whether or not the city government would be the one to purchase the materials for the project.

Victor Calimlim, president of the Baguio Market Plaza Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative, whose members were displaced by the fire, cited the need to immediately implement the rehabilitation project, saying this would spare them from further losses due to the onset of the rainy season. There is a need for sturdy roofs and walls to protect their merchandise from the elements.

In the past three months they have been occupying temporary stalls covered with tents donated by Manila Bulletin.

Calimlim said it is not business as usual because they could not keep their stocks at the burned area.

Every time it rains, they have to seek cover to prevent the destruction of their goods. – Dexter A. See


Golf tilt to raise funds for ailing mediaman

By Pigeon Lobien

BAGUIO CITY -- It’s all systems go for the benefit golf tournament of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club.

Moved from May 31 to June 21, the golf tournament will benefit ailing Manny Fortuny, cameraman and stringer of GMA 7 Northern Luzon.

It will be staged at the par – 61 Baguio Country Club golf course.

“We just have to smoothen some wrinkles in the plan,” said BCBC president Andrew Pinero of the 18-hole golf event which uses the Molave mode of play where three points is awarded to a par, four for a birdie, five for an eagle, six for an ace, two for a bogey and one for a double bogey.

However, for those with no handicap, the systems 36 will be applied, added Pinero, a member of the BCBC golfing team.

Fortuny has been suffering from kidney problems more than a year now under medication making him the first beneficiary of the BCBC golf tourney.

He was hospitalized earlier this year that a tournament that will race funds to pay for his medical bills.

“We had to move the tournament date because of the inclement weather, we are crossing our fingers that things turn out better on June 21,” said Pinero of the event.

Trophies will be given to the winners including special prizes like most accurate drive, nearest the pin, most exercised, among others, added the Sky Cable Baguio anchorman.

Attractive prizes will be given to the winners in the raffles which will take place during the awards night on that same day where dinner will also be served.

Tickets are at P1,500.00 for non-members of the BCC golf while P1,000 will be the cost of ticket for members, said BCBC treasurer Ricky Reyes.


Domogan: What martial law are you talking about?

By Larry Madarang

BAGUIO CITY —“What martial law scenario are you talking about”.

This question was posed by Baguio Rep. Mauricio Domogan to the opposition in an interview with newsmen.

Domogan, a three-term congressman and concurrent regional head of the administration coalition Lakas-Kampi-CMD said the opposition is only creating scenarios and not stating the facts to destroy the administration, Domogan said.

“Some are making it (the passage of HB 1109 in the Lower House of Congress) a vehicle to achieve political advancement,” Domogan stressed.

“In fact, we (the Lower House of Congress) exempted the Senate as it applies to all members of congress, both the upper and lower house.

“Another black propaganda they are spreading is that House members favoring the bill will receive twenty million additional pork barrel, how could this happen, I wish it was true,” Domogan said.

The opposition should also give merit to the proposed amendments, according to Domogan.

With the approval of HB 1109, nothing is final, the maximum that the house could do is only to propose amendments and nothing else, the final say will still be the Filipino People, he added.

According to law, any proposed amendment or revision to the 1987 Constitution shall only be valid when ratified by the majority of Filipinos in a plebiscite.

“The constitution as the foundation of governance must be improved, in order for us to move forward and for as to progress,” Domogan said.


DOH sets alert on high dengue cases in Cordi

BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera office here of the Department of Health has issued an alert on expected increase in dengue fever cases in four provinces of the region during the rainy season.

DoH records show that dengue fever cases in Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, and Mountain Province indicated significant increases in the number of dengue fever cases during rainy days.

Dr. Myrna Cabotjae, DOH regional director, said the rainy season should be a period for people to be wary of water-borne diseases such as influenza, leptospirosis, and dengue, which claimed a number of lives in the past several years.

The number of dengue cases in Abra, which recorded only six dengue fever cases last year, increased to 12 this year; Benguet from 18 cases last year to 33 this year; Kalinga, from 24 last year to 41, this year; and Mountain Province, from nine last year to 21 this year.

The Cordillera DoH office also recorded a total of 1,500 influenza cases in this mountain resort city from January to May this year.

Cabotaje said that some 600 influenza patients have taken oropharyngal swabs, and of the 284 specimens collected from January to February, 244 were negative of the flu virus, 31 had influenza A, not A (H1N1), six had influenza B, and nine had respiratory virus.

The DoH official said that for the people to avoid becoming infected with diseases, they should adopt strategies aimed at eradicating dengue. These include search and destroy mosquito breeding sites, self-protection, and seeking early consultation.
Dengue fever is said to have a cyclical trend for a period of three years after the occurrence of an outbreak in a certain community.

The public should be aware of the trend, considering that it is a dreaded disease that could claim many lives in a short time.


DPWH execs urged: Hold meetings with public next time:Loakan, Kennon roads’ repair hit

BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways in the region was urged by a monitoring committee to hold pre-contract planning conferences with stakeholders in implementation of future projects.

This, after the DPWH was criticized by motorists for simultaneously repairing the Loakan and Kennon roads here which they said greatly inconvenienced them due to massive traffic jams as they could not pass through and had to take a long route to reach downtown Baguio or go our of town.

The regional project monitoring committee under the Regional Development Council and city government’s project monitoring unit also proposed that DPWH should avoid simultaneous implementations of projects in cases like this when the public would be inconvenienced.

National Economic Development Authority regional director Juan Ngalob who is acting RDC chairperson and RPMC chairman, said they called for a briefing due to the public’s clamor on the various issues and concerns involving the project.

DPWH project engineer Alfredo Bannagao Jr said the DPWH is implementing simultaneously the Loakan and Kennon road projects as they are :urgent projects.

There is a directive from DPWH Undersecretary Ramon Aquino, directing all district engineers that pump priming projects should be implemented immediately,” he said. “Moreover, there is also a directive that will impose administrative actions to all concerned DPWH officials and employees who will not meet their targets in implementing pump priming projects in their respective areas.”

Bannagao said concreting of the 600 meter part of Loakan road is finished and in its curing period nd could be completely opened by June 23.

For Kennon road, Bannagao, said they will exert all their effort to finish it in a month’s time.

Bannagao also urged public utility firms to transfer their telephone and cable lines, wirings and other obstructions along the affected part of the Kennon road
He also appealed to the city government and the Department of Transportation and Communication help them reroute trucking and other heavy vehicles, to Marcos highway, until the concreting and road widening project in Kennon is finished. – Lito Dar


Gov’t execs warned on illegal logging in Sierra Madre mountains

ILAGAN, Isabela – Gov. Grace Padaca warned politicians, police and environment personnel behind, or in cahoots with illegal logging financiers in the province that “the law would finally catch up on them.”

This, after some 10 million more board feet of illegally cut forest trees were reported littered in the Sierra Madre mountains, a mute witness to the rampant and wanton rape of the province’s remaining forestland.

This conservative estimate came as the provincial government’s anti-illegal logging task force aborted the transshipment of around 750,000 board feet of hot lumber last week, which brought to more than 1.5 million board feet of the illegally sourced forest products in less than a year.

“The estimated 10 million board feet are still in the mountains waiting to be brought down. And that is only for the year 2008. How about the year before that, in 2007, 2006, 2005, and all the (past decades)?” asked Gov. Grace Padaca.

Earlier, Padaca, fresh from conducting an aerial survey of the northern Sierra Madre mountains here, said the cut lumber from the illegally felled trees within the vast supposedly national government-protected mountain park may even reach more than 100 million board feet.

On June 9, Padaca’s task force confiscated more than 300,000 of hardwood in San Mariano town here. Such confiscation is said to be the country’s biggest single haul of hot lumber in recent years.

This came a day after the same task force was also able to seize a combine 120 board feet of illegal lumber in two separate operations, also in San Mariano town, where 200,000 board feet more of hot lumber have been discovered last Thursday June 4.

Now on her second term as governor, Padaca said she would not care less if her drive against illegal logging would cost her reelection bid in next year’s elections as a result of stepping on the toes of some influential persons in her desire to finally put an end to the age-old outlawed forest activities here.

“With my two small feet, I will stand my ground. To educate our people and free them from the selfish interests of those who have long been exploiting them (through illegal logging operations),” said Padaca, who walks with crutches due to polio.

She said there would be no grace or clemency to whoever is caught, whether small or big-time illegal logger, whoever their connections are, or regardless of how influential they may be. -- CL


PDICtakes over Cagayan bank

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– A rural bank based in Santiago City, Isabela with branches all over Cagayan Valley has been placed under receivership after it started experiencing liquidity problems in recent months amid the global economic crunch.

Nathaniel Tumbocan, information officer of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC), said the takeover of Banco Agricola Inc., which started May 22, was based on a resolution of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas dated May 21.

An ailing bank is placed under receivership to protect its assets and depositors while investigation is underway into its possible insolvency or other violations.

Formerly called the Consolidated Rural Bank of Cagayan Valley, Banco Agricola has at least 3,000 depositors across the region with deposits totaling P77.13 million.

Aside from its main office in Santiago City, the bank has branches in Maddela, Quirino; Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya; and Cordon, San Isidro, Echague, San Mateo, Cabatuan, Aurora, Roxas and Ilagan, all in Isabela.

Tumbocan said the PDIC has undertaken a general survey of the bank’s finances before determining whether it should be placed under receivership in preparation for its possible closure.

As a result, except for the collection of outstanding loans, Banco Agricola’s other transactions, including withdrawals and deposits in all of its 10 branches, have been stopped.

PDIC representatives, however, assured depositors that they would eventually recover their deposits in the soonest time possible.

“Each depositor is guaranteed a maximum insurance coverage of P250,000 which is the maximum amount (to be recovered),” Tumbocan said. -- CL


Tabuk terminal set to be built

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – A centralized terminal here will be built here soon following site validation conducted recently by developers indicating the project feasible and viable for commercial business.

A team of experts from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Asian Development Bank and Development Bank of the Philippines was in town last week to inspect the 5-hectare lot at Barangay Appas here.

The city government purchased in September last year the lot from the P12.5 million capital outlay of the Office of the Mayor.

Rolando Gonzales of the regional Department of Interior and Local Government and coordinator of the Philippine Basic Urban Services Sector Project said the team’s comments and recommendations will be furnished to ADB and DBP as financial source of the project.

He said the funding will be in the form of a loan of less than 10% interest per annum.

Meyer Adong of DILG-Kalinga provincial office said the project will come in packages to include an access road to the site and its surrounding facilities.

He said the integrated transport terminal center will also serve as trading post.
Adong said the project, conceived during Camilo Lammawin’s first term as mayor will start early next year. “But if the process works fast, it might commence in the last quarter months of this year.” -- Peter Balocnit


2 NPA rebels slain as troops overrun camp

PINUKPUK, Kalinga – Army elements are now pursuing New People’s Army guerillas who were part in a gunfight wherein two cadres were killed in an NPA camp at Sitio Top-og, Barangay Ba-ayga, around 5 a.m. on June 2.

Joint elements of 21st Infantry Battalion led by 2nd Lt Engelbert. P. Callao and 51st Military Intelligence Company met the platoon of NPA cadres while on patrol.

A report sent to Maj. Gen. Nestor Z. Ochoa, commander of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division by LTC Antonio R. Lastimado, commanding officer of 21st Infantry Battalion to Camp Melchor F dela Cruz, Upi, Gamu, Isabela disclosed the two slain NPA rebels were seen by civilians being carried away by their comrades as they escaped.

The report said the NPA group was under led by Rudy Daguitan Aka “Pinpin” of Samahang Yunit Pampropaganda and Aantonio Cagwayan Aka “Senyas” of Larangang Yunit Gerilya, Kilusang Larangang Gerilya.

Discovered at the encounter site by the army troops were 15 bunkers containing sacks of rice, personaI belongings and documents of high intelligence value.

Army officials identified the slightly wounded on the government side as 2LT Callao and Pfc Elvis Bautista who were immediately brought to 5ID station hospital for proper treatment.

Ochoa said troops are conducting pursuit operations against the withdrawing rebel group.


Panlilio files charges vs Lapids who deny charges

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Gov. Eddie Panlilio recently filed before the Office of the Ombudsman plunder charges against Sen. Lito and his son, former governor Mark Lapid in connection with alleged anomalies in lahar quarry funds during their gubernatorial terms in this province.

“They have to account for some P568 million lahar quarry funds missing during their terms,” Panlilio told newsmen after he filed his complaint before the Ombudsman in Quezon City.

Also named respondents in the plunder case were former provincial administrator Fidel Arcenas and former provincial treasurers Jovito Sabado and Vergel Yabut.

Panlilio said in a statement, “I filed the plunder case against these five former public officials to seek justice for our kabalen (provincemates) who – after being displaced, killed, hurt and impoverished by the eruptions of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991 and the following lahar flows – had been deprived of basic social services due to the corrupt practices by the Lapid administrations.”

He said “evidence against the Lapids is strong,” as he cited records “the Lapid administrations collected only P121 million in sand and gravel taxes from 2002 to June 2007.”

The collections under the Lapids should have amounted to at least P689 million based on the number of truckloads made to pay environmental ecological fees in the towns of Floridablanca, Mabalacat and Porac in five and a half years,” he said.

He said this means no less than P568 million were unaccounted for six years of the administrations of both Lapids.

This, after he reported his administration exceeded quarrying income records in this province as taxes from lahar sand and gravel industry reached P395.5 since he assumed post almost three years ago.

Panlilio noted that the P395.5 million raised under his administration is also more than double the total of P155.626 million collected in 11 years under the two Lapid administrations.

He noted that in 2006, Mark reported quarry income of only P26.1 million for the entire year.

“During my first months as governor after substantial funds were raised from quarrying operations, people began asking me why those who had cheated them before in quarry income should not be held responsible,” he said.

Panlilio also said “low collections during the Lapid administrations happened despite big-ticket infrastructure projects such as North Luzon Expressway and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.”

“Pampanga and the nearby provinces have no such big projects now, yet your provincial government has been able to collect quarry taxes in an unprecedented level,” he said.

The elder Lapid held the governorship for three consecutive terms before he became senator. He was succeeded by his son Mark whom Panlilio defeated in the 2007 polls. Mark is now officer-in-charge of the Philippine Tourism Authority. As governor of Pampanga, I have filed today a case of plunder against Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid and his son former governor Mark.

Mark Lapid dismissed as political propaganda the plunder charges filed against him and his father, Sen. Lito Lapid, by Panlilio.

Lapid said the complaint, which Panlilio filed before the Office of the Ombudsman the, was just a “rehash” of earlier charges that were eventually junked.

“We have not seen nor received (a copy) of the complaint yet, but we surmise that this is again a rehash and a ploy of the Lapids’ political opponents,” he said in a statement.

Lapid said a similar case was filed against him but was dismissed by both the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan.

He said Vice Gov. Yeng Guiao filed a case against him, too, and this is now pending before the Office of the Ombudsman.

He said he and his father are ready to answer the complaint against them as soon as they officially receive a copy of it.


DepEd: No collection of fees in public schools

By Juliet B. Saley

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Public school officials in the province were ordered not to collect fees from students and to make use of uniforms optional.

The Schools Division Office here furnished last week all its school heads a memorandum issued by assistant regional director Josefina G. Tamondong reiterating President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s instruction to strictly implement the Department of Education’s “no collection of fees” and “uniforms optional” in public elementary and secondary schools.

DepEd Secretary Jesli A. Lapus issued last year Order 19,S. 2008 entitled “Implementation of no collection Policy in all public elementary and secondary schools.”

The order prohibited collection of fees from school children enrolling in pre-school up to Grade IV, during the enrolment period and at any time during the school year.

The prohibition shall covered authorized but voluntary contributions such as Boy/Girl Scout of the Philippines, Red Cross, Anti-TB Fund and Parents-Teachers-Community Association.

For grade and year levels beyond Grade 4, it prohibited the collection of any type during the enrolment period and the first month of classes.

Starting on the second month, contributions for Boy/Girl Scouts membership, Red Cross membership, Anti-TB Fund Drive, PTCA, school publication and membership in student organization may be collected but only on voluntary basis.

PTCAs may start their collection only after presenting to their members and to the school administration a report on the utilization of the previous school year’s collections.

The amount of contributions to the PTCA shall be agreed upon in a general assembly of the PTCA.

Collection of school publication fee shall be set at the school level but shall not be more than P60 per elementary school pupil and P90.00 per secondary school student.

The publication of a school newspaper, while not mandatory, is strongly encouraged particularly at the secondary level in line with the campus journalism program.

Collection of membership fees for student organizations shall be set by the organization subject to existing school policies on student organizations.

To ensure that the provisions of this Order are strictly complied with, regional and division offices are advised to undertake monitoring activities especially during the enrolment period and the first month of classes. Any violation should be subject to administrative action.

Likewise, under Order No.45,S.2008 entitled “Student uniforms not required in public elementary and secondary school,” the President ordered that wearing of a school uniform shall not be required in public schools but students with existing uniforms may continue using them if they so desire to avoid incurring additional costs for new attire, and that Identification cards shall be provided to students at no cost to them.


4 Apayao execs, bodyguard charged for mauling coach

PUDTOL, Apayao – A basketball coach here filed charges against four provincial and municipal officials of Apayao and one of their bodyguards for allegedly ganging up and mauling him for still unknown reasons during a sports night celebration here recently.

In his compliant entered in the police blotter of the local police station, Presco San Mateo, a basketball coach in this town, filed charges of mauling resulting to physical injuries against Apayao vice-governor Hector Roel Pascua, Pudtol town vice-mayor Cleofil Collado, Pudtol municipal councilors Richard Pascua and Norman Agonoy and vice-governor Pascua’s bodyguard Chabner Agonoy.

The blotter report stated that while San Mateo was dancing during the sports night celebration, he was reportedly approached by Chabner Agonoy in a provocative manner and demanded him to take a seat.

The victim obliged and went back to his seat but feeling insulted, he then poked a stare at Chabner and agreed for a fistfight outside the dance floor.

Unknown to the victim, the four provincial and municipal officials who were allegedly drunk at that time were waiting outside the dance floor.

Before Chabner and San Mateo slugged it out, the victim claimed Collado wrestled him to the ground and he could no longer make a move because he was reportedly overpowered and gave the chance to the vice-governor and his colleagues to inflict serious physical injuries to him.

Witnesses claimed the suspects continued mauling the victim even as they tried to pacify them but they could not do so since the gun of councilor Richard Pascua was allegedly pointed to them.

The victim claimed there were only two police officers who were providing security in the place but they were the bodyguards of the vice-governor. However, one of the bodyguards was pleading to the local officials to stop the mauling of the victim but his efforts were in vain.

Concerned residents and the bodyguard of the vice-governor helped the victim out of the place until he was able to ride his motorcycle and drove home.
San Mateo disclosed two friendly police officers provided overnight security to him because several service vehicles of the suspects bearing government license plate numbers were seen passing through their house several times as if they are harassing him not to report the incident to the police.
Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, regional director of the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera, ordered an investigation of the incident, citing he will not tolerate involvement of police officers in the incident. – Dexter A. See



Computer shop yields shabu

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union– A 27 year old computer technician was arrested last week in his computer shop by elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Region 1 and PNP Provincial Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group who swooped down on his computer shop which he reportedly uses to trade shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).

Identified as Lindo Baoas, a native of Poblacion San Gabriel La Union was after a PDEA agent posed as a buyer who ordered a five hundred pesos worth of shabu.

Four sachets of illegal drug were recovered on his shop as well as various drug paraphernalia’s and plastic repackers used for repacking drugs.

Intelligence reports also revealed that the suspect was responsible for the drug proliferation of the nearby barangays.

World War 2 vintage bomb unearthed in Benguet town
TUBLAY, Benguet—A World War II live vintage bomb was discovered by residents of Km 21 of this town after it was exposed on a mountain side during a landslide Wednesday.

SPO4 Benny Valencia of the regional police explosive and ordnance division- said the bomb weighed 2,000 pounds and an all purpose bomb used during World War 2 by the Americans.

The bomb measured eighteen inches in diameter and six feet in length.

According to Valencia, the bomb could create a crater as wide as seventy five meters and could cause damage to an area as wide as two to three kilometers.

The bomb will be transported to Tarlac for proper disposition, he added.
We are just wondering that though the bomb is already old, its mechanisms are still intact and could explode if mishandled.

According to Armando Lauro, Tublay vice mayor, there used to be a Japanese barracks along Km. 21during the war.
Meanwhile, residents of the area also surrendered a vintage mortar to the EOD believed to Japanese in origin for proper disposal. – Larry Madarang

Town employee tagged as suspect in shooting
PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte – An employee of the municipal government here was tagged as suspect in the shooting and wounding of two motorcyclists from Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, a police report stated.

Senior Insp. Teddy Rosqueta, Piddig police chief, said that the suspect drove a motorcycle and shot the victims identified as Jasper Aquino, 29, and his cousin Clifford Crisostomo, 21.

The victims, also riding a motorcycle, had just come from the wake of a relative in Barangay Lioeng when they were attacked.

Meanwhile, construction worker Michael Padaca expressed remorse over his act of shooting and wounded his father Ruben Padaca during a quarrel in their house in Barangay Lioeng, this town.

The victim lost three front teeth when a bullet fired from a caliber .45 pistol pierced his mouth, investigators said. – Jun Guiang

Soliba assigned as new MP army chief
BONTOC, Mountain Province – A native son was assigned to head the army unit to keep peace and order within the province.

Army Colonel Bismarck Soliba was tasked to take over the leadership of Task Force Montanosa after erstwhile commanding officer Col. Jones Sumagaysay was transferred to the Presidential Security Group.

A native of Ambasing, Sagada, Soliba took his elementary education at the Ambasing Elementary School and moved to the Suyo National High School where he graduated in 1980.

He first enrolled at the University of Baguio but left after he passed the qualifying examinations to the Philippine Military Academy.

He was commissioned second Lieutenant when he graduated in 1986.

He led army units as an infantryman but later transferred to the armor unit after almost six years.

For so many years, he was given different assignments as a commanding and intelligence officer.

In the year 2000, he was assigned in East Timor under the United Nations peace keeping unit where he was assigned as a company commander of the Philippine contingent.

Bismarck, more known through his Igorot name, Bistogey, is one among the five Soliba brothers under the employ of the peace-keeping departments. His older brother, Alfredo,Jr., is a ranking officer of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology while his two younger brothers are PNP officers, all graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy.

An older brother, Charles, also a PMA graduate, died while on duty in 1988. – Angel Baybay

2 Australians rescued at sea off La Union
SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – Elements of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coastguard rescued Wednesday two Australians aboard a yacht off Bacnotan, La Union, a belated report stated.

They boarded the yacht last June 6 in Taiwan and were supposed to proceed to Malaysia. Commander Ramil Enriquez, commanding officer of Navy ship BRB Alberto Navarrete PG-394, said that the yacht was towed to Poro Point, this city after the rescue operation.

Enriquez identified the two Australian as Mauro Magliorilli and Pauline Wilkinson. They were on vacation. The vessel reportedly had defects in its steering mechanism and propulsion system, causing it to stop in mid-sea. – Freddie Lazaro

2 nabbed for robbing young man of P32,000
BAGUIO CITY -- Two suspects of theft were nabbed here last week for allegedly robbing a man of his valuables worth P32,000.

This, after victim Jan Michael Hernandez, 22, single of Barangay Military Cut-Off filed a police complaint.

Police identified the suspects as Evangeline Narvasa 18, single of Barangay Lower Pinget, Wendy Tallayo 18, single of Quirino Hill and still two unidentified companions.

They reportedly robbed the victim of his valuables at 5:30 pm at Perfecto Street.

The victim reportedly saw the suspects the next day after the robbery along the Baguio-Loakan jeepney terminal which made him seek police assistance leading to the arrest of the two suspects, while their two companions managed to escape.

Cases for robbery aer set to be filed against the suspects. – Alwin Gundran

Wanted persons nabbed in Kalinga
TABUK, Kalinga – Provincial police director Senior Supt. Arni Dean D. Emock bared last week arrests in the province.

In a report, Emock four most wanted persons in the province were nabbed: Buclongan Bayubay for murder; Peter Malinao for robbery; Gerry Diascan for homicide; Jerry Ambona for theft and 29 other wanted persons with standing warrants of arrest for commission of same crimes.

Two carnapped motorcycles were also recovered at Cawagayan, Pinukpuk; at Mabilong, Lubuagan; and at Mt. Kurminga, boundary of Barangays Pangol and Mabaca of Tanudan towns.

Emock said arrested for illegal gambling were Elena Duraquio of Agbannawag; Rodel Manatil of Poblacion, Erwin Macaraig of Barangay Casigayan and Fidel Santos of Poblacion West, all of Tabuk. – Mar T Supnad

Body of suspected suicide victim found, buried
STO. DOMINGO, Ilocos Sur – A housewife who was found with a bullet wound in the head near her house in Barangay Poblacion, this town June 2 was buried last week.

Senior Inspector Arsenio Ramos, Sto. Domingo police chief said the victim was identified as Olive Battara, a native of Lallo, Cagayan and resident of Barangay Poblacion, this town.

Ramos said the body of the victim was found at an area some 50 meters from her residence.

Policemen earlier suspected that the victim had committed suicide, noting the presence of a handgun near the body. – Freddie Lazaro

Farmer shot dead in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur
CERVANTES, Ilocos Sur – Police are still trying to establish identities of gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms who shot and killed a farmer in Barangay San Juan, Cervantes town, Ilocos Sur.

Police identified the victim as Sebastian Langkayas, 38, farmer, of Barangay San Juan, this town.

Investigation showed some men went to the house of Langkayas night of June 1 to ask for food.

Police said that after the men took their dinner, they asked the victim to join them outside his house where he was shot.

The following day, witnesses found the body of the victim near his house.– Freddie Lazaro

2 suspected rapists arrested in Ifugao
LAGAWE, Ifugao — Two suspected rapists are now in jail for rape after their arrest by cops.

Police identified one of the arrested wanted persons as Thomas Dinamling Bulangnget, 26, of Barangay Olilicon here.

Bulangnget, a nephew of the victim, was arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by Lagawe Regional Trial Court Branch 14 Judge Joseph Baguilat.

Meanwhile, members of the Aguinaldo police station arrested Cherry Bangihan Napachao, 22. Napachao is a driver and resident of Barangay Mongayang, Aguinaldo. – Dexter A. See


Meningo resurgence in Cordillera more dangerous than swine flu


BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Health in the Cordillera warned residents to be on alert for expected recurrence of the dreaded meningococcemia virus during the rainy months and people must keep healthy to prevent infection.

The advisory was issued by health authorities in the light of the ongoing awareness campaign on the Influenza A (H1N1) virus which is nearing a pandemic level because of the rapid increase in confirmed and suspected cases in the different parts of the world.

Dr. Myrna Cabotaje, regional DOH director, said the three-year lifespan of the vaccine against the meningo virus will end this year, thus, appropriate information have already been given to the different health authorities region-wide to be on alert for the expected rise in the number of meningococcemia cases.

In 2005, Baguio suffered a huge setback in terms of tourist arrivals which extended to several months after local officials made statements on the presence of a number of meningococcemia cases that caused panic among local residents and tourists. As a result, the local tourism industry nearly collapsed because of a sudden drop in tourist arrivals due to fear of being affected with the dreaded disease.

Cabotaje said meningococcemia is far more dangerous than the current A (H1N1) virus because of its effect to human beings. For the past years, meningococcemia and dengue fever had claimed the lives of a number of Filipinos compared to the A (H1N1) as the latter has still no recorded deaths but is spreading rapidly. Prevention is better than cure. So before you are afflicted with deadly viruses like meningococcemia or A (H1N1), take the necessary precautions.


Better no money than be dead

Alfred P. Dizon

Health is wealth, a tired cliché goes. As one goes older, one has to deal with a body ravaged by time, cholesterol, alcohol, salt, smoke, stress and others that slowly weaken the immune system.

It was unthinkable some years ago that I would be afflicted with arthritis. Now, the pesky rayuma rears its ugly head every now and then when I neglect exercise. Aside from sinusitis, I also have to contend with failing eyesight. It’s still okay when I read but nowadays, any font below eight points is a struggle.
A doctor prescribed eyeglasses, but I don’t use it anymore since it gets me dizzy. Most of my 40-something up peers also complain of ailments they haven’t experienced in their younger years. It is a time of “awakening” on importance of health.

Like most of my peers, I have stopped smoking and lessened drinking. But eating less of pinulpugan (singed pork) during canaos (Igorot indigenous rites) is one thing I still have to learn. Pinapaitan, I can dispense with. But then, when some friends invite me to the slaughterhouse karinderias in Baguio, it is always a struggle to forego with it. But then, one has to be more disciplined at this age. Better to have a healthy body with no money than be rich but dead or paralyzed with sickness.

For people reaching the age of “enlightenment” (this maybe the politically correct term hehe), medical care and healthy living are a must. But then, medical services are high. For those who have the means, it is a breeze but for the marginalized, it is high time government looks more into alleviating their plight.
In relation to this, it is a welcome development that Liberal Party president Sen. Mar Roxas filed a bill seeking appointment of health workers in every barangay nationwide as frontline health workers, especially at this time that the global financial crisis has hit home.

Roxas filed Senate Bill No. 3012, or the proposed Barangay Health Workers Act of 2009, seeking the appointment of at least five barangay health workers in each of the country's 41,994 barangays.

"Sa panahong ito ng krisis, mahalagang unahin natin ang kalusugan ng bawat isa, at pwede nating gawin ito kung magtatalaga tayo ng mga health workers sa ating mga barangay (In this time of crisis, we must protect the health of our people first and foremost, and we can do that by appointing health workers in each barangay)," he said.
The delivery of basic services and facilities such as health and social welfare services were devolved to the local government units following the enactment of the 1991 Local Government Code.
"It is, however, ironic that while barangay health workers are the front-liners in providing health care services to the community, there is no existing mechanism to secure that all barangays are equipped with the services of their own barangay health worker. This bill seeks to remedy this situation," the author of the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008 explained in filing the bill.

Under the proposed SB 3012, a barangay health worker shall refer to a person who has undergone training program under any accredited government or non-government organization primarily to render health care services. Health workers eligible for the job shall be duly-accredited by the municipal or city health board in accordance with guidelines set by the Department of Health.
The bill also allows each of the country's barangays to hire at least five health workers, who shall be entitled to allowances and benefits similar to that received by other appointed barangay officials, as well as security of tenure. The barangay health providers can only be dismissed from work based on valid cause as provided under existing civil service rules and regulations.

It likewise mandates the Department of Interior and Local Government, in coordination with the Civil Service Commission, to promulgate within 90 days from its enactment the rules and regulations necessary to implement its provisions.


Gloria’s ‘spruce goose’

Perry Diaz

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s long-time dream of creating the largest political party since the time of Marcos was realized last May 28, 2009 with the merger of Lakas-CMD and Kampi under the new name of Lakas-Kampi CMD.

The merger of Lakas-CMD, founded by former President Fidel V. Ramos and former Speaker Joe de Venecia, and Kampi, founded by Gloria, would indeed be a formidable political force that could dominate the 2010 elections; that is, if it doesn’t break apart by its sheer weight.

This reminds me of Howard Hughes who built the biggest flying boat which critics called the “Spruce Goose.” On its maiden test flight on Nov. 2, 1947 with Hughes piloting it himself, the humongous airplane flew for only a mile at 70 feet above the water. Its mediocre performance forced Hughes to abandon the project.

Would the super sized Lakas-Kampi CMD become Gloria’s vehicle to dominate the 2010 elections or could it be another “Spruce Goose”? During her keynote address at Lakas-Kampi CMD kickoff at the Manila Hotel, Gloria told the cheering party members: “The emergence Lakas-Kampi CMD as one party is our finest weapon and perhaps our best guarantee for success in the 2010 elections.”

She also said, “I look upon the Lakas-Kampi CMD moving as one, fighting as one, as the instrument and vehicle for electing the best, most qualified and the worthiest leaders of our country.” Indeed, by merging the two parties, it could become the most formidable political force since the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ New Society Movement or Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

Formed in 1978 after the martial law ended, KBL was an “umbrella” of various political parties, notably the Nacionalista and Liberal parties, which supported Marcos in the newly established interim National Assembly or Batasang Pambansa. Later on, KBL was converted into a political party and became the ruling party of Marcos during his dictatorial reign. KBL’s absolute control of the Batasang Pambansa has put an end to the two-party system. There was virtually no opposition to Marcos until his ouster during the People Power Revolution in 1986.

Did Gloria have KBL in mind when she pursued the merger of the two largest political parties, Lakas and Kampi, into one that would have absolute control of Congress? But why would Gloria do that when she is going to step down at the end of her term in June 2010? Is there a probability that she would want to be the country’s “leader” in one capacity or another after the 2010 elections?

Or could it be that what Gloria had in mind was to use the Lakas-Kampi CMD -- described as a “powerhouse” party -- to pursue Charter change (Cha-Cha) this year to change the form of government to a parliamentary system? If that would be the case, what might be Gloria’s new role come June 30, 2010?

It remains to be seen if Lakas-Kampi CMD would really be a “powerhouse” party. First of all, the two persons most likely to compete for the party’s presidential nomination -- Vice President Noli De Castro and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro -- are not members of the party. They are both independents with no current political affiliation. The only bona fide member is Bayani Fernando, Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. However, he has been ignored by the party’s leaders because he is not deemed winnable. With no winnable presidentiables from its ranks, Lakas-Kampi CMD could hardly be described as “powerhouse.”

However, if there is one power behind it, it would be Gloria. Gloria single-handedly put the merger together when she assumed direct control of both parties a few weeks ago when Speaker Prospero Nograles and Congressman Luis Villafuerte resigned as president of their respective parties, Lakas and Kampi, to give Gloria a free hand in the merger.

It is interesting to note that Villafuerte did not attend the Lakas-Kampi CMD’s first meeting last May 28. He indicated that he was not going to join the new party and will remain independent. He said that the merger would not solve the party’s problems which include rivalries between Kampi and Lakas candidates in local elections. Several Kampi stalwarts including Congressman Felix Alfelor, Villafuerte’s ally, are not joining the new party.

As someone once said, “Politics is local.” The local elections could become the Achilles’ heel of Lakas-Kampi CMD. One of the rules adopted by the new party was the “equity of the incumbent.” Since the merger dissolved two parties to create one mega party, the merger could lose a lot of good Lakas and Kampi members who are not incumbent office holders.

For example, if an incumbent office holder is a Lakas member, he or she would benefit from the “equity of the incumbent,” thus automatically becoming the new party’s candidate. Meanwhile, a Kampi member who wants to challenge the incumbent Lakas member would not get the new party’s support and would be forced to get the endorsement of an opposition party. It could work the same way if the incumbent was a Kampi member and the challenger was a Lakas member.

Had the two parties not merged, local Lakas and Kampi candidates could run against each other with the support of their respective parties. And whoever wins would still be allied with Gloria.

But like Hughes’ “Spruce Goose,” the Lakas-Kampi CMD -- which some people call PALAKA, acronym for “Partido Lakas-Kampi” -- could meet the same fate as Hughes’ “Spruce Goose.” What “Spruce Goose” proved was: “bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.”

Presumably, Gloria would know that, as a result of the merger, she would have a lot of problems trying to mend local rivalries between Lakas and Kampi members running in the 2010 elections. However, it would be a different story if there would be no elections in 2010. With no elections, the incumbent Lakas-Kampi CMD officeholders -- from top to bottom -- would truly enjoy the benefits of “equity of the incumbent” which could include an extension of their terms of office. But for “no election” to happen, the Lakas-Kampi CMD has to have absolute control of the House of Representatives. And the merger just made that a reality.

In the late hours of Jan. 2, 2009, the House of Representatives -- by voice vote -- railroaded the controversial House Resolution 1109 which calls on the House of Representatives to convene into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to amend the 1987 constitution without Senate participation. The question is: Can the House convene Con-Ass without the Senate?

Finally, the long-awaited Cha-cha train is moving in earnest. Now, Gloria has her cake and can eat it too. Next train stop: Supreme Court.


When the joke’s on us

Ramon Dacawi

With admirable courage and humility, comedienne Candy Pangilinan came Monday afternoon to seek forgiveness before the city council. Moved by the purity of her intention, the members of the local legislature individually accepted the apology and went on to collectively rescind a resolution that had declared her a persona non grata.

Coming to session ready, councilor Richard Carino revealed that, over the years, the city council had bestowed the “unacceptable person” tag and status to five people. Only Candy, he noted, came and pleaded forgiveness for a faux pax that, the comedienne stressed, was never intended to hurt.

In an attempt to draw laughter during a show at SM-Baguio, Candy uttered “Tao po ako, hindi Igorot”. Immediately and days after, she drew condemnation from all over for that careless remark. Her manager qualified the correct line was supposed to have been “Tao ako, hindi Igorot statue”.

Candy’s impropriety was the latest in a series of slurs that, sooner or later, will be uttered again - out of sheer ignorance about who we are. Not by her, for she learned her lesson, but by others who still believe Igorots are ignorant, have tails and whose ancestors lived on tree tops.

Councilor Nick Aliping suggested a “daw-es”, a traditional Igorot cleansing ritual to exorcise bad spirits that might have triggered the remark that hurt, and to strengthen the peace, friendship and harmony triggered by Candy’s atonement, her appeal for understanding and her wish to understand.

Aliping, one of six councilors who identified themselves to Candy as Igorots, was into a ribbing, estimating the ritual might require at least a pair of cows or carabaos, plus 128 sacrificial pigs to each of the city’s 128 barangays.

He suggested Rep. Mauricio Domogan may consider sponsoring the animal sacrifice.The huge crowd gathered at the session hall were figuring out the costs when Aliping advised Candy to consult a “mambunong”, a native priest who might deem even only a chicken would do.

To brush off misconceptions about misrepresentation, Domogan said he was not “lawyering”: for Candy. When he heard the slur, the solon immediately demanded public apology. Candy later called in his office to say she would publicly apologize. .

Hearing her apologize, lawyer George Dumawing, a native of Kalinga and past president of the Baguio-Benguet Integrated Bar of the Philippines , assured he would withdraw a suit his fellow lawyers asked him to file on their behalf against the comedienne.

On Candy’s wish to do more than apologize for her error, Dumawing advised her to tell her colleagues in showbiz to stop depicting Igorots in a bad light in their films, television shows, performances and utterances.

All’s well that ends well. Well, at least until fellow aging Igorot newsman Greg Taguiba of Bontoc, Mt. Province shared me a text message he got from another Igorot. Greg swore he had the sneaky suspicion the message originated from my cellphone.

“It said Igorots are immune from swine flu because Igorots (as deduced from Candy’s remark), are not humans,” Greg said. “That’s illogical and dangerous to believe,” I replied, “ as the virus developed in and affected swine first.”

“Ipakat mo manen ti Ifugao logic mo a,” Greg remarked, grinning ear-to-ear. That’s it. Aside from logic, we Igorots do have a sense of humor which makes us human, too. We love jokes, even at our own expense, provided they’re timely and cracked during the appropriate occasion. Igorots can forgive and cope with a bad one -and their anger - by having it mutate to a more palatable or two-way version.

Ask Ike Picpican, the Igorot anthropology student and professor who did an honest-to-goodness research on the Kabayan mummies. He was curator of the St. Louis University Museum when I last met him.

Ike told me of a juxtaposition quite different from Candy’s. He had the occasion to turn the tables when a rowdy group of students on a field trip here broke the quiet of the museum with derisive laughter. Approaching them, Ike heard more laughter when one wondered aloud, “Siguro ang lalaki ng bunganga ng mga Igorot, ano?.”

They were looking at a glass-encased set of old wooden ladles carved like over-sized spoons. “Bakit, wala ba kayong nakitang ganyan sa bayan n’yo?,” Ike asked with innocent curiosity, pointing to the artifacts. “Wala, sir.” “Wala bang ganyan sa museum n’yo?” “Wala kaming museum, sir.”

“Ang ibig n’yong sabihin hindi gumamit ng kutsara ang mga ninuno n’yo?,” he asked and left them to their now more quiet thoughts. (e-mail: ecowalkmonda@gmail.com for comments).


A revolution of their own

March L. Fianza

I first came across “Green Revolution” in high school. It was launched by Imelda in May 1973; eight months after President Marcos declared Martial Law in September 1972.

It was given the name “Masagana 99” and was initiated purposely to improve irrigation, increase rice yield to become a rice self-sufficient nation. It also encouraged people to plant fruit trees and vegetables in their gardens and backyards.

Undeniably in 1977, the Philippines became self-sufficient in rice and corn for the first time in modern history. The country also became one of the world’s leading coconut oil producers.

In January this year, GMA launched her own “green revolution” project under EO776 which aims to strengthen the country’s food security, generate employment and livelihood for the poor.

The program calls for the setting up of urban vegetable gardens and backyard fisheries in vacant lots and unused government lands in urban areas.

Dubbed “Gulayan ng Masa” and ISLA (Integrated Services for Livelihood Advancement, it was launched as part of a massive government food production program in urban areas with the active participation of the agriculture agency, LGUs and the Pagcor.

That is as far as what the government says. What the people know about the new program on food production is another thing. I asked around and it seems not many are familiar with the order.

It is either that the LGUs did not receive it, or they received the order but are not ready to implement any part of it. Why? GMA ordered all governors and mayors to set aside funding for the purpose of the Gulayan ng Masa and Isla in the urban areas.

Oops! When LGUs hardly have funds for priority projects, can they set aside money for EO776? There are funds for the program from Pagcor with the DA providing a counterpart but in order to complete it, the LGUs must give their counterpart as ordered by GMA.

It is not the same in other places. In one barangay in Aritao, its officials wrote a resolution to their governor and congressman for them to consider their community as one tourist destination in Nueva Viscaya.

It is proof that in an unknown corner of this country affected by the global economic slump, there are selfless people who are very willing to open their community to others for the sake of progress. They do not have to wait for executive orders from anybody.

In their resolution to Gov. Luisa Lloren “Banti” Cuaresma and congressman Carlos M. Padilla; barangay officials of Baan, Aritao namely Gorgonio Bautista, Madarang Bowayan, Luis Napaod, Jose Rosimo Jr., William Cabigat, Roy Cangsan, Bernabe Luto, SK Chair Nilo dela Pena and Punong Barangay Romeo Codnita said, “promotion and development of the tourism industry lies on the active participation of the host community…”

The barangay intends to open hiking trails, camping grounds, launch cottage industries on basketry and rattan weaving, and establish home-stay as a means to house tourists.

But tourism-oriented projects are hardly set up even with the creation of the Barangay Baan Tourism Council. In our experience, most tourism councils merely act as promoters or proponents of projects to government agencies that often fail to implement the proposals.

Roger Sinot who, time and again, goes “home” to Baan, Aritao to visit the land his late father maintained for them, knows exactly the relationship between private parties and the government tourism agency.

He has experienced that government agencies do not infuse money for tourism facilities now, except for the tourism projects established by then President Marcos and his wife Imelda.
Instead, they ask the private sector to develop their privately owned places to promote tourism – then they ride on it, saying that they (government) are doing something for tourism. Who are they fooling?

Realizing how worthy the Baan proposal is, Roger complimented their resolution by offering a part of their property for a the implementation of the Socialized Industrial Forest Management Agreement (SIFMA) project of the DENR so that Barangay Baan’s dream may come to fruition.

Certainly if this pushes through, it will produce a radiating effect that will be felt by the communities around it, at least in terms of livelihood, environmental protection and food production.

I believe dreams about tourism as an industry can come true even without the help of the agency tasked to promote it. However, no one can deny that it has also helped a lot – by hiring employees in its bureaucracy.
Happy Freedom Day to all, especially to Baan Aritao. Indeed, they are truly independent. – marchfianza777@yahoo.com


Today’s revolution: Public service

Eugene M. Balitang

(The columnist has been a practicing lawyer since 1999. He now holds office in Lagawe, Ifugao. Eugene was born in Banaue in 1972. He finished his primary education at Banaue Central School , high school at Saint Paul ’s Academy, BS Accountancy at Saint Louis University , and Law at the Baguio Colleges Foundation.He is the son of Alfredo Dagadag Balitang Sr of Hingyon and Mercy Gayaman Mariano of Kingguingan, Banaue. He is married to Deborah Balanban Buyagawon of Kiangan.The editors apologize for inadvertently misplacing Atty. Balitang’s photo in his first column.)
(Reprint of speech delivered during the flag-raising ceremony at Lagawe on June 6, 2005, still relevant to the times.)

Six days from today, on June 12, we will be celebrating our Independence Day, an independence that is a product of several revolutions.

Before the Spaniards accidentally landed on our shores in their search of spices and gold, the country that we know today is but a collection of 7,100 islands, each having its own government and people.

Thanks to three centuries of Spanish oppression and alleluiah-amen, that is – evangelization, our sense of patriotism has awakened and we revolted against our white colonizers – thus, we now celebrate our so-called independence day. Then came another white oppressor – the Americans whom we thought are our friends, but later on disdained and revolted against. And when the Second World War broke out, we revolted against military imperialism and checked the advance of Japan ’s Imperial Army in the pacific theater. Had we crumbled under the Japanese onslaught, Germany and Japan might be the superpowers today. We would have been sending our nurses to work for the Japanese yen instead of the US dollar.

We are now a nation, a country, a state – instead of a mere collection of 7,100 islands. There is a reason then to celebrate Independence Day six days from today. But before we embark on merrymaking and festivities, why don’t we ask ourselves whether we are indeed “independent.” Sometimes these thoughts cross my mind: that maybe we are better off as the 51st state of USA , or that, we are a province of industrial Japan.

Today, my dear fellow public servants, we are still oppressed. The irony is that, our oppressors are not white men or chinky-eyed Asians. Our oppressors are our own people, our very own selves. We have become the enemy. We are the oppressors of our own very own people.

Lately, the very foundation of our government is shaken by the jueteng issue. We are building hotels in Boracay for our soldiers’ R & R while they are shot at like sitting ducks in the battlefields of Mindanao for lack of combat armaments. We are debating charter change instead of discussing what we would use for classrooms for the hundreds of grade-schoolers that trooped to our public schools this very day. These are only a few of the many social ills that we suffer daily in the hands of our “oppressors” – our very own people. Corruption is now the name of the faceless enemy. We have lost faith in our government and in ourselves. We need again a revolution!

This time, our revolution is not waged in hills and plains with guns and bombs; it shall be waged in the silence of our hearts. And the best soldiers in this kind of revolution are no other than us – the public servants. If corruption is the name of the faceless enemy, we are the best-trained soldiers for its annihilation. And this we do by simply doing our best in rendering honest, efficient, timely and dedicated public service.

Today is manic Monday, the start of another long workweek. I believe that we all have our hang-over from the weekend revelries. But let us take this day as the first marching drill for the rendition of an honest, efficient, timely and dedicated public service. And if we would survive this manic Monday, I know we can survive the whole week, the whole month, the whole year, and all our working years until we retire, 8 to 5 until we reach 65.

Fellow public servants, let us annihilate the faceless enemy instead of joining its ranks. Let us put back our people’s faith in our government and in our bureaucracy. This we do by simply giving our best service in whatever position we are in. Let us start today’s revolution: public service!


A senseless death/Gumil tidbits

Cesar G. Bonilla

LAOAG CITY -- The death of police officer Juanito Sagayaga,Jr. in front of a cockpit arena in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte proved once again that the peace and order situation is really threatened by criminal elements.

The viruses continue to wreak havoc on the lives of many victims and the civilian populace is quivering in fear because of heartless elimination of human lives in what we may call culture of violence.

With deteriorating peace and order, business is hard put in prospering and investors are wary in bringing dollars in places where there is atmosphere of fear. If only there is more humility, kindness, and love, there would always be room for friendship, understanding and mutual cooperation amongst us.

To commit a crime like murder and homicide is considered one step to hell. Some criminals have been put in jail but some have bought their way out with their money. But the fact is that our mortal body always ends up in grave and we are still answerable to God. That is if you believe that there is life after death.

The Philippine National Police may have done their part in maintaining a peaceful environment but the cooperation of civilian populace is still needed. Let us pray that our leaders will make means to lessen if not stop lawlessness and violent killings.
I would like to greet Madam Bernadette "Lorna" Ipac, administrative officer of Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center, Aileen R. Rambaud and Ludilyn Ely F.Bravo. Our thanks to SLI I/OIC LMO III Manuel R. Orque of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and his family.

His children were accommodating and hospitable during our visi in their residence in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte. The GUMIL-Ilocos Norte is expressing its gratitude to Sir Manuel because of his greatness of heart. Welcome to GUMIL-Ilocos Norte, Sir.
The president of GUMIL-Filipinas has made programs to uplift morale of the organization. The first lady GUMIL president Elizabeth Madarang-Raquel was born Sept. 5,1950 in Pinili, Ilocos Norte. Her father Ricardo G. Madarang was a former Sangguniang Bayan member of the town. Her mother is Caridad T. Bigsot.

She started as a writer in the late 1980s while she pursued her college education at Northern Luzon Teachers College.It was her grandfather Felipe Albano, one of the founders of GUMIL-Hawaii, who inspired her to write and be a correspondent of Phil.-Am Press in Hawaii.

Her proficiency as a writer was then developed and here constant devotion to literature sharpened her skills until she graduated. As a president of GUMIL-Filipinas, Madam Ely spearheaded creative writing seminars to help students from different colleges and universities to become good writers.

She said that one must be a writer if she possesses the values of humility, patience, determination, and ability to read the masterpieces of well-known writers in our own Ilocano dialect. She is a brilliant educator just like her husband. They are gifted with two equally bright siblings

Like Maria Eileen and Master Jovanne Bryan. With her good dealings, she could be a model not only to the Ilocano writers but also to her fellow educators. She has discipline, good manners, and good public relations.


The ‘savage’ Igorots

Gina Dizon

It’s more than an Igorot dance. It was in 1904 when some Igorots of the Bontoc tribe formed part of the 1000 Filipinos who were led to the St Louis Fair of 1904. At Louis, they were displayed in an Igorot Village for seven months and made to butcher and eat dog meat on a daily basis, historical records say.

After St Louis, a veteran of the Filipino-American War named Richard Schneidewind contracted some of the Filipino group and displayed them again in Ghent , Germany in the World’s Fair in 1913.

It was also in 1909 when 50 Igorots were showcased during the Alaska-Yukon- Pacific Exposition in Seattle. In those early years of the 1900s , World Fairs must have been too exotic a show not to be missed by any curious person who is interested to know how a “ dog –eating naked savage” looks like as pictured in earlier writings in the late 1800s.

And so we read of Fr Francisco Antolin’s description of Igorots as “hardly different from wild beasts.” So it must have been a curiosity to look at an Igorot alive at St Louis or at Ghent and see for one’s self how the Igorot eats a dog. Does he eat it raw? Does he eat it cooked? Does he ear it with his hands? Does he set it apart with his teeth?

Such possible questions must have been in the minds of the curious onlooker, the curious researcher. Seemingly devoid of any humanity, the Igorot must have been an object to be scrutinized of how his arms or eyes or legs look like. Like a piece of figurine which is held from one to hand and felt of its texture. Is it warm? Is it cold? Like a statue, the Igorot was a thing of curiosity which was exhibited for any curious person to satisfy his curiosity. So it may have been in the mind of actress Candy Pangilinan, a century after when what she was supposed to say as she claimed was “statue” and not Igorot.

So less than human is the impact upon the person of the Igorot that, as historians note, American missionary Bishop Charles Henry Brent of the Anglican Church based in Bontoc then in the early 1900s, discouraged Igorots from joining “freak shows’ in the United States, but he was not successful enough.

While Fairs are nobly intended to “educate” the world of an ethnic tribe and his way of life, it is a standing question of a venue legitimizing racial discrimination at the same time. That is, as more and more of bigotry and prejudice have been experienced in the whole stretch of the 19th century to the 20th. We ask now how much of defeating the legitimization of racial discrimination shall be seen in the upcoming 100th anniversary of the AYPE in Seattle this June of 2009.

The event will re- enact history of setting up an Igorot Village. The Igorots of today will perform Igorot dances and songs, rituals, backstrap weaving and show who an Igorot is.

Yet who is an Igorot? Is it changing the dark skinned Igorot to a fair skinned one as she dances the Igorot dance in high heels? Is it to show that he is now educated with an MBA or a PhD degree and that before he was uneducated and illiterate? Is it changing who he is before and presenting a modern Igorot now? Is it showing the same rituals and cultural practices that the Igorot had been doing for years?

The Igorot will dance his dances and play his gongs during the AYPE in Seattle this June the same dances that he played in 1904, 1909, and 1913, the same sound and the spirit of the Kaigorotan. So what difference does it make now?

While he dances with his/her gateng (skirt) or wanes ( G-string) with the tune of the gangsa (gongs), it is an affirmation of who he is, in spirit and in soul. He/She is the noble savage in /her his time and territory. Former mayor of Bontoc and septuagenarian Alfonso Kiat-ong portrayed in spirit, a long-haired proud Igorot who danced in the streets of Bontoc with his dinagta G string as he twirled his gayang (spear) , during the opening Lang-ay Festival in 2005 I couldn’t help being so emotive then, sent shivers down my spine.

The Igorot survived in the jungles of the Cordillera with his spear and his noble savagery. “Hardly different from a beast” as the western and urban man has looked at him, that “savage” ( noble savage to be exact) in him, kept him who he is: a people who trace their roots to the strong and resilient Igorot in each generation.

And now, a conscious part of the organizers of a show, a far cry from the 1904, 1909 and 1913 Fairs where the Igorots were hustled and hassled and God-knows-what if they were promised a dollar or two while the organizers had their tobacco concessions in the deal.
The AYPE 2009, for one, is being co-organized by Mia Apolinar-Abeya from Bontoc, one of the descendants of the Igorots who was part of the St Louis Fair in 1904.

And it is only when he/she affirms his consent and be part of the show, and know that he is not discriminating nor exploiting his own humanity, that the Igorot will proudly dance. And that, the Igorot knows he/she is not a show, per se! And so we have the Igorots dancing to the beat of their gongs during provincial festivals. the Lang-ay of Mountain Province, Adivay of Benguet, Imbayah of Ifugao, Arya Abra of Abra, Mataguan of Kalinga and Wow Philippines. And so during these local contemporary celebrations, while the Igorots congregate and enjoy the fellowship, they profit from tourism while promoting the name of their own localities.

This, a far cry from the 1904, 1909 and 1913 fairs where they were left helpless in the streets of Ghent to fend for themselves, the organizer having gone off with the proceeds after the show. The Igorot is a living person, a race, an ethnicity to be lived with. Much as he hunted with his spear, danced with the rains, prayed under the trees, the Igorot will live the essence of who he was years ago.

A race in tune with the harmony of the spirits of the trees and gurgling waters, one with the spirits of his ancestors, protecting his people and rugged territory much as he lived and protected his life from invading and oppressive forces alien to the essence of his soul. One who continues to live amongst many, a distinct ethnicity, a distinct person, a distinct soul , who has a place in this world of diversities.


An arrogant Panagbenga organizer

Rudy Garcia

BAGUIO CITY -- All local media organizations in Baguio should now join hands in condemning the chief of staff of Panagbenga 2009 over the latter’s high handedness to a member of the working press.

Dangal “Amboy” Guevarra who is connected with Vaguio Country Club and then chief of staff of the Baguio flower festival 2009 accordingly uttered “P--tang ina mo, ano ba talaga ang gusto mong mangyari, walang media media sa akin” just after he tried to grab the video camera of media practitioner Odell Aquino, who at that time was covering the said event.

From the look sat it, this gesture of Guevarra clearly shows his arrogance and his assault on press freedom. I wonder why this stupid official of the event was harsh to a member of an institution which is considered a partner for progressive programs.

Or could it be that Guevarra is one among those officials who know something fishy and now afraid that the smell would come out? The reason why he opted to hide it all under his skirt? Is there a bigger picture here that hides its true color?

If we recall from recent past events, were the revenues (both declared, undeclared and under the table) that previous administrations made from organizing and running the activities of Panagbenga which has been proven to be a huge money earner benefited the personal pockets of some officials?

In as far as this writer is concerned, there is more than meets the eyes and we can do a little more investigative journalism and look more into the detailed activities of the Baguio Flower festival and not delve so much on what is seen and heard on the surface or the actions of some of its trying hard staff members.

Well, I could say that Guevarra is still lucky I didn’t cross his path, for he could have been like chicken crushed into pieces. Grrr!! I can say that again, Amboy Guevarra, can you hear me?

Showbiz personality Candy Pangilinan finally bowed her head and said sorry to the people in Igorot land on whatever she has done to offend them during a show at SM Baguio. The people and the city officials showed compassion and forgiveness that they lifted the ban on Pangilinan not to set foot in the city.

Of course they now appreciate this action of Candy and everyone could agree that Candy is now sweeter the second time around. This is a lesson everyone should be learn to never make racist jokes about kababayans and hurt them the way. Kabunyan would not want them to be.


A fulcrum for convergence

Ike Señeres

Without any real planning behind it, my TV show has become a fulcrum for the convergence of organizations and individuals who are working for national development in general and business development in particular. One way or the other, the show has become an enabling mechanism for organizations and individuals to get involved, and to get things done.

One of the main features of the show is a running ticker of stock prices, the modern equivalent of the old ticker tape. Pushing information is really a proven and tested way of promoting any product or service, and what I would like to do now is to find more ways of pushing information about stock exchange data, perhaps through mobile or outdoor means.\

Basically, “Bears & Bulls” is still a stock market show in particular, but it is now evolving to be a business show in general. Since anything that is good for the country is also good for business and vice versa, it would be a good idea to use the show to build business, and to build the country along the way.

If we look at the developed countries around the world, we could see that their national economies grew because their local economies started to grow in the first place. This is the direction that we should take, to build our local economies so that we could build our national economy in the process.

I have not yet received any inquiries regarding my offer to help local governments in putting up their hazard mapping systems and hazard warning systems. It is a sad reality that very few local governments have these systems, even if these do not cost much. Anyone reading this column should relay this information to their local officials.

Perhaps its just plain coincidence, but I interviewed young scientist Roland Jay (RJ) Miguel a few days after I discussed hazard warning systems in my show. He turned out to be part of a team from the GSMetrix Corporation that has designed a solar powered multi-purpose sensor in cooperation with the National Institute of Geological Sciences. Now we are one step closer to affordable warning systems for local governments.

Since he is from UP Diliman, I gave RJ an assignment to go to the UP Marine Sciences Institute (MSI) to find out whether a database built by a Transfer of Knowledge thru Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) scientist that I assigned there many years ago is still in use. The database measures the amount of Escherichia coli (e.coli) in the water in terms of parts per million (ppm).

It may also be plain coincidence that the Philippines has practically become the text messaging capital of the world. Growing up in this environment, it has become easy for young scientists like RJ to think of inventions that are based on mobile technologies. Simply by making a missed call to the sensor, it will send back data about heat, moisture, motion or anything else that is programmed into it.

Based on the usual behavior of the more developed economies, scientists or inventors like RJ are initially funded by angels or venture capitalists before they are able to mature into initial public offerings (IPOs). Quite sadly, the number of IPOs coming out here are very low, a reflection perhaps of our low turnout in the global patents race.

I am aware that a venture capital group is operating out of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), led by Mr. Ed Isidro. Kudos to his group for doing this, but I think the venture capital market in the Philippines has to grow much faster if we are to catch up with the rest of the world in product development.

I also interviewed Ms. Aleli Pansacola and Ms. Marlyn Kragh in my show, and I am amazed at the talent of these two Filipinas in developing world class health and beauty products. Quite sadly again, they do not seem to be getting the right exposures to the capital markets that they need badly.

Ms. Pansacola laments about the fact that the Philippines is now importing essences and fragrances when in fact better substitutes could be produced here. One thing good about these two ladies is that they are both helping local farmers who are producing their ingredients.

Watch my TV show “Bears & Bulls”, a daily coverage of the Philippine Stock Exchange. 9:00 am to 1:00 pm in Global News Network. Email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639293605140 for local cable listings.


In the dark caverns of Ambongdolan

Glo Abaeo Tuazon

TUBLAY, Benguet -- For much of the years after World War 2, Tublay remained a silent municipality of Benguet. Situated near the Halsema highway originally known as the Mountain Trail, Tublay was much a part of the resistance force against the Japanese Imperial Army during the war years.

The locals were recruited along with people from the other Benguet municipalities and though crudely armed and learned won the war. One reason why the locals usually last for a long time and though seemingly fighting a futile war and in the end persist is because they know their place more than the enemy. They know how to go about scouring all the terrains, and could memorize the nooks like the back of their hands. And the caves were much part of the war history in Tublay.

Going steeply down to Barangay Ambongdolan and hiking more way down led to the hollows under the mountains created by nature and time. For eons before anyone ever domesticated the area, the trickles of water passing thru a little crack and seeping underground created a massive hollow as big as a humble cathedral. I say cathedral for the reason that the crystal and mineral build-ups almost resemble the magnificent artisan works of a typical cathedral.

Paterno Cave deceived me. The entrance was nothing more than a tiny hole to accommodate a single body. Sliding in like a snake on its belly the enclosed canal belched me out inside a landing with a barely larger enclosure, tiny spires of stalagmites protruding from the damp floor and stalactites holding on to dear life hanging from the ceiling.

And then the adventure started. Like miners we slid our way down a narrow vertical shaft by the use of a rope and then a metal ladder, the only man-made introduction the local government put up to minimize accidents because the way was too tricky to huddle with just the ropes. Little by little and getting thru numerous caverns the hollow opened up to a larger-than-a-house compartment.

From here the air was clear as it opens down below to a huge maw of a mouth. A few paces from here, the path continues to another big hole, still a part of Paterno Cave. It was fascinating to go about the cave in a perfect upright position, the size of it able to engulf a few battalions of soldiers at a time. Now it occurred to me how the army during the war was able to comfortably hide themselves from view to rest and plan and assemble.

This cave was in fact named so for Gen. Paterno who led his army here for a time. Halfway inside is a large compartment where at least 2 masses were held, an altar put up near tiny stalagmites that grew to resemble a Madonna and Child protrusion. On the other side was “Jesus” with His back turned facing the wall. Coincidentally along the way where we came was a cluster of mineral growths they named “Jerusalem”, all because it seemed like a portrayal of the holy family complete with the other characters in the bible passage.

Bengaongao Cave on the other hand lies a little away from Paterno Cave. Down to where the river screams its force, the cave opens up to a huge cold embrace. During summers and dry seasons, the entrance spits out a trickle of water and the floor is a mantle of cold smooth stones typical of those littering river floors. Along the cave walls are evident marks of water levels etched by time and water passage as it came and went.

When the rain comes, the water level rises and it would be an impossible feat to enter the cave. Going deeper was like solving a mystery. You get into a passage and discover clues as you go thru. Everything inside was an enchantment and an enlightenment. Nature does have a way of teaching people in a different sort of way if only we learn as we appreciate.

The forms of a sleeping parrot, of croc heads, of budding flowers, of elephant ears, and in an almost comic way the overwhelming number of male and female genetalias hanging and protruding from the floors, walls and ceilings. Giant mushrooms, broccolis, tiny terrace-like landscapes, and then the “heart” of Bengaongao Cave.

Smack in the middle of the cavern under the earth is the heart-shaped mineral build-up suspended between stalagmites and stalactites, dripping in pure, icy water. Give yourself a few shots of imagination and it almost palpitates like a live heart pumping the life force of Tublay. Egg-like formations dot the place, in a sunny-side up sort of way. Up above the mighty enclosure are chandeliers of crystal. So much beauty buried like treasures in the bowels of Benguet.

Sad to say, people never really learn. In my stead, the fascination prods me to an urge – the urge to preserve and protect. So much vandalism had escaped the ever protective eyes of the guides and townspeople. There were writings on the walls and some of the most pristine crystal build-ups were deliberately chipped out and apparently sold for a purpose. Nobody should be allowed to destroy what nature built in ages.

Environmental protection has always been one of the primary concerns of the tourism committee of Tublay as does other places. They have been trying to device ways to promote appreciation as well as developmental growth that would go hand in hand with preservation and protection. For now they have minimized the number of people going inside the caves.

Guides have to accompany them for safety and to oversee the activity of the spelunkers. Unless people learn, there is no development, no growth. And until we learn someday the environment that gives also takes its toll.

For more details of Tublay, people could get in touch with the municipal officials and the barangay officials of Ambongdolan. Or email this author. Any idea, comments or knowledge of these environmental crimes are welcome for further study and proper action.

My thanks to councilors Erickson “Tagel” Felipe and “Shangtaw” who patiently guided us through slips and turns during the tour. And to those others whose stories (coming up in another issue) gave me a better perspective of the people and places in Tublay. -- Email: twilight_glo@yahoo.com


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